Trick or Treat for the Sensory Challenged Child

Nothing screams Halloween more than transforming your little one into their favorite Disney Cartoon character or super hero. This is a great time for dressing up in their cute costumes and decorating your space at home. Let them help you. On the flip side, this can also be a very scary and stressful time for these children.

As we try to revel in this fun time, we need to get your little ones with sensory challengers prepared for the changes that they will be experiencing in their environment. Here as a resource we have theThe American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) tip sheet for Halloween both in English and Spanish.

These are some of the things you could do to help you and your child during this holiday:

  • This could mean creating a social story
  • letting them know what you’d be doing that day for trick or treating, or what its going to be like in school where everyone will be wearing a costume and there will be tons of fun decoration.
  • Also include there will  be a variety of sensory experiences from visual, tactile, auditory, smell and  vestibular stimulation
  • Let them know that you’d be going door to door for trick or treating- what to expec- we’ll be ringing the bell, what to say if they are verbal ( “ Trick or treat”) and what to say when they get the candy/ chocolate (“Thank you”).

The break down and step by step expectation is important.

  • If this is too stressful with too many people on the street and it is a sensory overload it is ok to have the celebration at home.
  • You can throw a Halloween party at home for your child. Have them dress up and look for  Ghost card board cut outs) or candy hidden in different places around the room. Decorate your house/ room to have a Halloween theme. Have fun Halloween themed snacks …
  • Remember if your child has tactile sensitivity then you need to be mindful of the material of the costume, the seams or the tags of the costume can cause the child distress.

It’s a fun time not just for the kids but for the family as a whole to come together to engage in some fun activities.

  • Activities such as carving out pumpkins ( only adults), the kids to engage in coloring pumpkins for the lids to paint teeth and stick eye balls.
  • Make this a fun sensory experience: They can help knead the flour to make spooky cookies, help with making pop corn balls, rice crispy treats, candy apple give such a rich variety of textures and aromas for the child to participate in making…giving them the chance to explore the different textures in a fun and safe atmosphere.
  • It also provides an opportunity to do many different craft activities to work on enhancing their fine motor skills, visual spatial skills  and sensory motor skills such as either finger painting or coloring and cutting up images of pumpkins, bats, witches, cats, hats and the list goes on for them to apply glue to stick on  another sheet of paper. Or they cool peel off stickers to paste on a pumpkin which provides another surface. You could do a “treasure hunt” in finding the items hidden in the room where they have to scan the room to find the ‘sticker’ that they need to paste on their paper.
  • Coloring a Jack-O lantern  or placing stickers, or using stencils to make shapes on the lantern can be such a fun experience that can be displayed outside the house for your Halloween.

From a safety stand point, we do know that some children with autism tend to dart or run which is scary possibility for anyone of us. There is now a discreet GPS smart sole which is a wearable GPS tracking solution for those who wander. The GPS tracker is a smartphone hidden and sealed in a trim-able shoe insole and can be tracked online. It requires a service plan just like your phone and works in areas with cellular coverage. It automatically logs its location. You can find this product and other similar products on the resources page under Autism GPS tracking / medical item / medical jewelry.

I also would highly recommend for children with autism to wear a medical Alert IDs that provide the most important information. The medical ID provides information on the individuals’ condition, medications, allergies or treatment considerations that is readily available for first responders.

The Medical Alert Tech IDs are powered by MY ID is the latest in modern medical ID jewelry, the simple tech ID such as MYID Medical Bracelet provides the benefits of cloud-based health profiles without the hardware. There are  medical ID that also provide custom-engraved medical ID with urgent information at a glance together with tech ID with access to an online health portal with detailed medical history, additional emergency contacts, insurance information, medication dosages and etc.

You can find this product and other similar products on the resources page under Autism GPS tracking / medical item / medical jewelry.

On another note, there are blue buckets out there for children with autism to carry to help others to quickly identify the children and help them enjoy the spirit of Halloween. I just want to remind you there may be other children who do not have autism who also just like the blue colored buckets. While there may be some kids with autism who prefer to carry the orange bucket. So just remember regardless of whatever colored bucket a child carries, give that child who comes your way the fun experience they are seeking from this holiday.

Happy Halloween everyone.

Halloween Resource Tip Sheets